Welcome to Calvary Church Ogmore Vale
Righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ
to all who believe.
Righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ
to all who believe.
A direct and simple sharing of what the Bible truly teaches.
Jesus welcomed everyone to come to Him - especially if they felt tired or crushed by life. We'll do our very best to give you a warm welcome when you come to our services at 10.30am and 6pm on Sundays.
Without truth and trust, our lives have very little value. At Calvary Baptist, we have come to trust that God's word, the Bible, contains all that we need for life now and the life to come. Jesus Christ declared Himself to be the Way, the Truth and the Life - our services are centred around the study, explanation and application of His words of truth.
We sing what we are passionate about - whether that's cheering on the rugby or football team we support, or singing along to our favourite songs on the radio! When God impacts your life, you have more reason to sing than ever before - it's the overflow of a heart that is so thankful to God for giving you a new life, a true peace and a certain future! Worshipping God in song is an important part of our services - and whatever your singing's like, God sees the true state of our hearts!
If you were to discover a cure for cancer, you'd spend the rest of your life telling everyone about it! When we receive new life in Jesus, His Spirit gives us a joy which floods into every part of our lives. Jesus told His first disciples to go into the whole world and make more disciples, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded them to do.
We believe in one God,
the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through Him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
He came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate
He suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and His kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy, apostolic and worldwide church.
We confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and we look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
About Calvary Ogmore
HISTORY OF CALVARY ENGLISH BAPTIST CHURCH, OGMORE VALE.
By Owen Batstone. Revised 2023 by Marcus Harris
My sincerest thanks go to the late Mr William Pope and Mr George Richards who compiled and produced the history of our church from its origin to its Seventieth Anniversary Service on October 23rd 1950, to the anonymous compiler of our 100-year Commemoration Paper in 1977 and to the providers of the pictures used. Their writings comprise the bulk of this article. Some of the names from their writings have been retained as they may be of interest to friends and family who remain in the Valley. For a more extensive article please don’t hesitate to call. Finally, thank you to the Ogmore Valley Local History and Heritage Society for printing this article.
The English cause of the Baptist Denomination in the Ogmore Valley started in 1877 with between twelve to fifteen members. It was a branch of the mother church, Bethlehem and was called Calvary English Baptist Church. The witness of the English Baptists began in two cottages on Llanharan Hill, in the High St. Some of our founding members were Mr and Mrs David Rees (undertaker), Evan Kinsey, Henry Phillips, Thomas Jones (weighman), Thomas Rees, John Howe and wife, Richard Jones and wife, Charles Pevot and wife (who walked from Bryncethin), Mr Mitchell and William Edwards. Bert Williams was the first organist.
Having no building they started worshipping in the two bottom houses on the left-hand side of Llanharan Hill. They appointed a temporary pastor from Llantrisant, Mr Hilton, who was an inspector on the GWR. At this period there was a large influx of miners from the Forest of Dean, into Ogmore Vale, among whom were several Baptists who joined the church. Thus with a membership of about thirty and a fairly large congregation, the temporary building became too small to hold the worshippers.
It was now necessary to find a site on which to build a church. After much discussion, the present site was the chosen spot, and the chapel was built in 1880 – 137 years ago. While the building was in course of construction, worship was held in the old Bethania Vestry.
Early in 1881, the church appointed Mr E. Aubrey as pastor, a student from Haverford West College. The membership more than doubled during his little over three years stay at Calvary. He married Miss Evans (Beehive) Nantymoel and was the father of the Rev. M. E. Aubrey, who was the General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland for several years.
At that time Mr James Williams (Forest of Dean) was appointed Manager of the Tynewydd Collieries. He and his family were ardent worshippers at Calvary and proved a great asset to the church.
The Church of God is not for perfect people. It is for flawed people and flawed people sometimes squabble and fight. As Christians, we try to resolve our differences lovingly and amicably displaying forgiveness and patience as Jesus displays towards us. Calvary Ogmore has had its moments of tension too. At the end of 1881 Mr Aubrey called a special church meeting to consider the advisability of enlarging the building, but the church, at the recommendation of the Deacons, decided not to rebuild for a few years, and in 1882 Mr Aubrey tried again to induce the Deacons to reconsider the question but they were adamant. In 1883, they were so full, Mr Aubrey once more begged that something be done, but again the Deacons decided against enlarging. At this time, he received a call to Ton Pentre early in 1884, and much to Mr Aubrey’s and the church’s regret, he left Calvary.
Despite our shortcomings, God promises to work all things for good for those who love him, says the Bible, and after eighteen months without a pastor, Calvary appointed the Rev. W. J. John from Kenfig Hill, in 1885. Mr John was a very able minister, and lots of people became Christians during his ministry. He delighted in singing and was also a very able Bard, his Bardic title being ‘Gwilym Cynfig’. Mr Pope was one of the first three whom Mr John baptised.
During the ministries of the Rev. E Aubrey and the Rev. W J John, the church was practically full every Sunday, and very often they had to borrow chairs to put along the aisle. Mr John left in 1886 and one of his converts, Mr Herbie Williams, went out to Punjab, North India, as a missionary. During Mr John’s pastorate, Mr Fred Pevot was elected organist, and Mr Lewis Kinsey was Singing Conductor. Mrs David Rees was one of the Kinseys, and she was a beautiful singer strangely enough, she was a fine tenor, and Mr John often called upon her to help the tenors when they were few.
In 1865 Aber Coal Co. opened a drift mine at Ty-Newydd, in the Ogmore valley, to work the No.3 Rhondda seam. Five miners were killed here in a localised underground explosion of May 1887. In 1887, the Rev. W Bassett was appointed as pastor at Calvary. He was an excellent scholar, and a fairly good minister, although the church suffered a decline during his stay. He was pastor here when the Aber Explosion took place, and he took part (read and prayed) in the service at the graveside. A real church is not an ancient relic which has no contact with the real world. It is a community of Christians who actively serve and support people in their localities, especially in tragedies such as the Aber explosion.
In 1890, the church (although in rather a weak state financially and numerically) appointed Rev. W E Robinson. There were many additions during his little over two year’s ministry. He worked chiefly among the young people and formed a large Bible Class of young men. The average attendance of this Class was between fifteen and thirty.
I wish to pause here to appeal. In 2017 young people are the most entertained young generation ever. They have all the information in the world on their mobile phones but yet, they are also the most boring and empty generation ever. The Bible says that they’re made for more than gadgets and gizmos and to have a relationship with God is what they need. At Calvary church, we know the living God in Jesus and have a great sense of community together and all people, young and old are welcome.
From 1892 until 1899 we were without a Pastor. In 1898 a special Church Meeting was called to consider moving the little mountain of earth and stone that was behind the Chapel. It was unanimously decided that it be done, so about twenty young men banded themselves together to do the work. We engaged carts to take the earth away and walled the stones on one side. We quarried enough stones from there to build the Vestry, as well as to build a large part of the road wall on one side of the road. In October 1899 Rev. W. D. Young became pastor and during his time the debt incurred on the building of the church, £180, was cleared. When he left, the church had £80 in hand.
In 1904 something very special happened in Wales. It had happened a handful of times before and has not happened since. The country experienced something called a Revival. Revival is when God visits his church in a particularly special and clear way and it causes people to fall deeply in love with him. Not only does it affect Christians in church but, in 1904, it resulted in over 150,000 new people becoming Christians and filling churches and chapels. It is said that “Whole communities were radically changed from depravity to glorious goodness. The crime rate in the country dropped, often to nothing. The police had little more to do than supervise the coming and going of the people to the chapel prayer meetings. The underground mines echoed with the sounds of prayer and hymns, instead of nasty jokes and gossip. People who had fallen out became friends again.”
The Revival had a significant impact on Ogmore Vale. Thousands of people had become Christians. By 1906 Mr J. W. Treharne of Pembrokeshire became pastor and during the first year, he baptised several and drew large crowds to the services, so large, that at one time Calvary was too small to hold them, and the Sunday evening services were held in the Old Workmen’s Hall for a few months. Our church made nationwide appeals for funds to develop our building. The need was expressed in a booklet Calvary made and sent out to other churches. It serves as a stark reminder of how deeply steeped in Christianity our valley was. It reads: “At every meeting we are over-crowded, whilst many who would come are unable to find standing room…Our Sunday School again is held in the same building, with the result that one class interferes with another…the cost [for the new building] would be £2,300. The Chapel will seat 800.”
Interestingly, the records show that the church received a lot of proposed support but the building never materialised and we are not sure why.
After three years without a Pastor, we appointed Rev. D. J. Davies, Garnant, late of Ton Pentre, in 1912. Mr Davies left for Argoed in 1921. It was a very lean time in the history of the church, especially during the latter part of his ministry. Although the Sustentation Fund came into being in 1913, and helped us considerably, with the 1921 Miner’s strike and other things, the church suffered very badly indeed. We paid Mr Davies’s full salary during the strike; that, and other reasons, left us with a debt of over £400. That’s about £16,500 in 2017. In October 1923, during the ministry of Mr Samuel Jones the debt was reduced from £400 to £300 and at the end of that period we held our Jubilee.
Singing Festivals were held annually on Easter Monday turn at Blaengarw, Nantymoel, Pontycymmer and Ogmore Vale. As Calvary was too small to hold these Festivals we always borrowed Bethania for the purpose, of holding lunches and teas in this building. Unfortunately, attendance at the Festivals diminished during the late 1920s, and they were discontinued in about 1930 after being held by the four churches for at least twenty years.
From 1929 to 1947 we were without a pastor but our debt was cleared, and we also purchased the ground rent of the church. The Deacons were approached by our young people in 1936 to get a marriage licence for the church as they felt that it was in Calvary, where they were reared, that they would like to be married. So early in that year a licence was obtained, and the first marriage was solemnised on March 1st 1936. The first four married couples were – Lewis Lewis and Margret Pope, John Davies and Clarice Lloyd, Bryn Reed and Dill Pope and Oliver Morgan and May Palfreman.
Women have always enriched the life of Calvary church with their godliness, faithfulness and gentleness. May I name a few from the past – Mrs Palfreman (mother of brother Alf Palfreman), Mrs Evans (Washington), old Mrs Darby, Mrs Waters, Mrs Mark Hole, Mrs Wilkinson (wife of A. Wilkinson), Mrs Reed, Mrs Coombes (Fronwen), and that very remarkable woman Mrs John Milton, who, while the rest of the church slept on Sunday morning, would be writing texts and verses on the road at the Workman’s Hall Square – big bold handwriting to catch the eye of the passers-by.
It was once said by a pastor at church “all of the best men are women”. In 2017, faithful women still comprise the backbone of the church and the other valley churches too. They’re prayer warriors and hard workers and we thank God for them. It can be argued that many men in the valley are in a prolonged state of adolescence, often lacking in responsibility and that it would benefit the valley if they took a more active role in their communities, families and jobs.
Rev. Arthur Harris was appointed pastor in 1947 and his godly, warm character, his preaching and teaching abilities, and his wife and children are still fondly remembered today.
These decades proved to be a seminal period in our history. Many churches in the UK broke away from their parent associations; the Baptist Union, Presbyterian Church of Wales and Congregational Union. They did so for many reasons but chiefly because of the associations’ affiliation with the “World Council of Churches.” The WCC is an ecumenical, global fellowship of churches which seeks to officially unite Protestant and Catholic churches under a “Christian” umbrella. However, it’s arguable that this “unity” comes at the expense of biblical and doctrinal agreement on one of the bible’s key teaching; namely, how someone becomes a Christian.
In 1969, during Mr Harris’s pastorate, the church officially cut its ties with the Baptist Union and became an Independent Baptist Church. Independent churches came under fire for their secession which appeared “divisive” but they carried on with the conviction that their interpretation of the Bible was correct. They believed unity at the expense of truth was no unity at all, it was only uniformity. Furthermore, they believed that breaking away was the loving thing to do because it would harm and confuse people to unite with churches that were teaching conflicting messages.
While Calvary church warmly extended welcome, love and peace to all people from any background or religion they felt they couldn’t officially unite with them. It’s worth mentioning that the Bible commands Christians not to unite theologically with people we judge to be veering from core Christian teaching. Here are some verses: John 7:24, 1 Cor 2:15, 1 Cor 5 (esp v12), Rom 16:17, Gal 2v4-5, Matt 18:17, 2 Thess 3:6, 2 Tim 3:5, 2 John 10-11, Rev 2:14-16.
On May 15th, 1977 we held a special service to commemorate 100 years. The preacher was Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, of London, who was the most “famous” preacher in the UK at the time and who had supported Calvary’s decision to secede from the Baptist Union.
Rev. A. Harris pastored Calvary for 23 years. His excellent spiritual ministry was often interrupted by poor health and this ultimately forced his retirement in 1970. He entered into the presence of His Lord in 1974 and Rev. D. Ian. Childs was inducted in 1972. Although still small in terms of membership, the church supported the ministry without any outside help. During this time the church provided facilities for travelling from Lewis Town both for services and Sunday School.
In 1985 the church appointed Rev. Brian Nott and he, his wife Ann and his family served the Lord here until his retirement in 2012. Mr Nott, like all the pastors before him, spent his pastorate telling people that Jesus Christ is Lord and can save sinners. The Notts continue to put others before themselves; helping people in the valley who are in need. Along with the hard work of faithful stalwarts like the late Mair Humphreys, John and Tricia Lewis, the late Ray and Mary Smith and many others, the church remained a significant part of the life of the valley.
In 2012 Owen Batstone served as pastor of the church and lived in the village with his wife, Rita and two children. when Calvary reached a significant amount of people with the good news that guilty and flawed people can have peace with God and that he can fix their broken lives. with the two services on Sunday, Parent and Toddlers on Tuesday, Bible Study and Prayer Meeting on Wednesday and Youth Clubs on Thursday. There were also special events through the years like Macmillan coffee mornings, charity events, Alzheimer’s Awareness classes, Parenting classes, Carol services, quiz nights and visits to the poor and needy. We also underwent grant applications for a disabled access ramp, though we didn't have much success with it.
In Late 2019 Owen and the family moved to a new ministry in Cardiff and left us with a parting prayer and hope for the future of the church
Owen's Parting Prayer and Hope for the Future
I would urge the readers to reflect on how rich a Christian heritage this valley has been blessed with over the centuries. Over Calvary’s 130 years, many served the church who are now with their Lord, and others are scattered here on earth – many of them your friends and families – living happy lives for their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I would press the readers to think about the absolute joy that can be had in knowing God and being part of local churches. We are no longer a chapel-going culture; we know very little about Christianity compared to a generation ago. But our thirst for something deeper than the things of this world can’t be suppressed. We are each made for a relationship with God and nothing will fulfil us until we find him. And to that end, Calvary church is open and ready to receive any and everyone with the love of God, and we pray that people who are lost, lonely, happy, sad, rich or poor will join us.
We were joined by Kevin and Wendy Taylor who came to help with the running of the Church and also to help us find a new pastor to take us forward,
Then in early 2020, we were joined by our interim minister Dom White on a part-time basis as he was waiting to start his own Ministry at Ogmore by Sea.
During this time we entered the Covid pandemic and with restrictions in place we closed the building and with the help of Zoom
we continued online with weekly pre-recorded public sermons and when restrictions allowed following the guidelines we were able to meet in the building and were blessed with many visiting pastors from supporting churches both in person and online. Many thanks go to pastors John Orchard, Andrew Norbury, Adam Thomas and many others during this time as we continued to search for a new pastor and with the help of Kevin, Wendy, Dom, and Paul Daniel. In 2021 we thank God for his blessings we found our new pastor Steve Dunn and his family.
Pastor Steve Dunn is now leading us into the future and as we started to come out of Covid restrictions we can now enjoy meeting together again in person with two meetings on a Sunday and also one on a Wednesday and many other meetings during Easter, Harvest and Christmas with further events throughout the year.